Spreading the Love at Washington University in St. Louis
- by Peter Todaro
After a year and a half of COVID-19-induced safety measures, travel restrictions, and social distancing, Regional Vice President Mark Lachance arrived on campus at Washington University in St. Louis to thank the on-site Bon Appétit team who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
This was the first opportunity since the pandemic started for Mark, as well as Regional Director of Activation Jessie Gentz and Regional HR Manager Beth Schartner, to visit WashU together and connect with the team safely in person. In addition to spending some quality time with Bon Appétit staff in the dining offices, Mark wanted to spend a little time with each and every Bon Appétit team member on campus to express appreciation for their work throughout the pandemic.
Before the visit, Jessie had 250 cards made, one for each employee, thanking them “for going the extra mile.” As Mark, Jessie, Beth, and Bon Appétit at WashU General Manager Ryan Goodwin made the journey across campus, from WashU’s Bear’s Den Café to Millbrook Market, covering 16 cafés total, Mark distributed the cards and personally thanked each employee he met along the way. Going behind serving lines, into dish rooms, and production kitchens, Mark gave out hugs, fist bumps, and handshakes (masks on, of course).
Many Bon Appétit at WashU employees have worked on campus for decades, and have known Mark for just as long. Mark got to see Juanita Davis, a Lead Cook in WashU’s commissary kitchen as well as Yolanda “Lonnie” Hileman, who joined Bon Appétit as a manager 22 years ago when Mark helped hire her to the team. Since then, she has spent time managing every café on campus. “I can’t imagine visiting WashU and not seeing Lonnie,” says Mark. “She is a fixture on campus.”
Despite the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, it’s not hyperbole to say that Bon Appétit family remains strong. The ability to reconnect after so much time away was truly appreciated by all.